New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Can you just talk us through the decision to make this donation (to healthcare workers through Raising Cane's) and make this contribution?
"Yeah, so basically it was just something on my heart, I wanted to do my part and support the front-line health-care workers who are caring for our community. Just like the role they play, it's huge. Just like the role that they play in the community with the virus and along with just helping people every day with issues and putting their selves at risk. I feel like they've been grinding and I just wanted to give back in some way."
Have you had an opportunity to speak to any of those frontline workers?
"Not yet. How the whole thing came about, I am friends with Todd Graves, who is the CEO of Raising Cane's. I know how much New Orleans means to him. I know how he has been grinding late nights just trying to keep Cane's available for the community, just so people could have something to eat, some type of food. I know how when things happen, how he loves and is passionate about New Orleans that when things affect here in the place that he calls home how he just likes to buckle down and try to (come up with) cool ways and ideas to help out the community and just have an impact. And this time it was just me teaming up with him wanting to be a part of that just from knowing him and his passion. I just wanted to give him a helping hand, but I know he cannot do it by himself."
Now in the meantime during this pandemic, what have you been doing, I guess to keep yourself occupied? Have you been able to avail yourself to the kind of workout equipment, the things that you're accustomed to having or have you had to kind of restructure a little bit?
"I mean, I'm always figuring it out, I guess. I'll be good. I'll be ready to play when the season comes. More than ready."
Where have you been working out?
"I don't give up all my stuff like that. I'm working out though. You'll be able to tell. Everyone will be able to tell."
When you first talked to Todd Graves, he said in the press release he matched your donation. Can you kind of go into the process of how that kind of came about where I guess, were you planning on that?
"Honestly, I was not expecting him to match me in any way. I just went to him just for advice, how I can get this done and feed health-care workers. Then it was like when I sent that and he didn't even answer my question and he said, 'I'll match you, whatever you donate.' I think that just shows a lot about the type of person he is. How much, like I said, New Orleans mains to him. Cane's is a Louisiana company that is based here, that started here. So this is where his heart is and they've done a lot of great things in the area to support the community. I feel like he's always trying to do that and when you team up with people like that, it always goes, I feel like above and beyond just because of the energy, the passion and just the love that's involved."
Has the pandemic affected you personally in any way?
"No, it hasn't affected me personally in any way. It's just something we're all going through and we're just developing new, healthy routines and basically the only way you could be affected is if you're not finding ways to improve yourself and develop more routines and just get yourself ready for once we get through this pandemic. Because if you look back at the history of the world, we've been through a lot of stuff so I think it's all about how you respond."
What's the primary way that you're catching balls now? Is it from a machine or do you have someone that can throw it to you?
"Yeah, I have a machine. I do a lot of different things. I don't like to talk about them. Everybody should be doing what they need to do to get ready for the season and then soon enough we'll find out."
I know a few of us have been watching this (Michael) Jordan documentary and have noticed that a lot of his fuel and motivation kind of reminds us of what we've seen from you. I know you said you were big (Allen) Iverson fans growing up, but was Jordan and the way he carried himself always an inspiration for you or even more so now after watching this?
"Yeah, most definitely. I didn't get to see too much Jordan as a kid, but you see the highlights, you hear people talk about it. I think the thing that made me feel like I knew Jordan was how big of a fan my dad was of him. My dad was a huge Jordan fan, so he probably instilled a lot of those little things, characteristics and habits that he watched when he saw Jordan. He named me Michael also, his name is Michael. There are a lot of things that I feel we have in common. And I felt like there are not many things not to like about Jordan if you are the ultimate competitor, you want to win, you want to be the best. There's a lot that comes with that. There are not many people you can relate to at that level. So when you get a person like that at the highest level to pretty much open up about the whole thing, It allows you to stay honest and realize who you are. I feel like to play at the level Jordan played at is not for everyone. It's a lot that comes with that. You have to be prepared and you need examples like that. I've been watching a lot and studying a lot of like great documentaries and movies and reading and just studying how they refined their craft back in the day. Testing it against how I prepare and stuff like that. I feel like if you study those guys, you line them all up, you'll see a lot of key characteristics that they have that others don't and as long as you stick to it, good things can happen."
What about the concept of finding motivation and everything, I know you commented on how he keeps a list and we saw you go a little back and forth with Devante Parker on social media yesterday. How much does that drive you, to find (motivation) anywhere you can?
"Yes, at the end of the day you just want your respect. I value respect at the end of day. I feel like that's one thing I value and when you put in the work, I feel like you deserve to think like that and be like that. Keep everybody honest. I've always been taught to keep everybody honest. Just so that, at the end of the day, we'll find out who was right and who was wrong. So just keep everybody honest around you and that doesn't just mean the people that's talking, that's also yourself too. So if you're going to talk it, you've got to definitely walk it too. I like that type of pressure. I've been doing it my whole life, so it's pretty much, it's whatever for me. I like to see how people feel and then I like coming out and doing my thing and then seeing how they feel after that and then if they still feel the same way, something's wrong."
I know historically you and Drew (Brees) have been able to work out in California in the summer, how is that affected, is there any chance of being able to do that or talk much about it before camp this year?
"We haven't spoken on that yet, but at the end of the day it becomes trust. Drew and I have played a lot of football together now. We have done a lot of cool things together and I do not think we have actually slowed down during those things, so we're excited for what is to come. We are excited for the year to start and to be able to get back out there together. So I think with just having that type of relationship, you go and do the work, whether somebody is watching or not, you're still going to find ways to get better. You're still going to find ways to make sure you're doing what Drew's expecting you to do that, that's all. And that's what happens, we go out there, we compete at a high level against the opponent and during the week we prepare and just take great notes on the matchup and then execute at a high level. But I feel like we'll pick up where we left off and there won't be any setbacks just from the type of relationship we (have) and types of people we are."
Have you talked to Emmanuel Sanders at all and what are your thoughts of having him join the wide receiver room?
"I haven't talked to him just with this pandemic and stuff. I know eventually, we're going to have to go to work one day together and that's when we'll start, we'll talk. I know he comes from championships. He's played in championships. He's won championships. He's played at a high level for a long time. He's a great vet. He's played in some big-time games, so he knows what it takes. That was just adding another great piece to the puzzle and I can't wait to see how it enhances our offense. There's not much to talk about with that. It's just we've got to get to work."
Do you think having another high-level guy could help you at all with the coverages you see or anything like that?
"We're going to find out. Like I said, I'm going to figure it out at the end of the day, but I guess history or things have shown that having another guy on the outside could help you do a lot of cool things. So we'll find out."
We're working on a project right now where we're putting all-star rosters together from every college team and I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. I assume you think Ohio State probably has as the best talent in the country and if you think Ohio State?
"Yeah, the numbers show it. Sometimes it's like you don't even have to say anything when the numbers show it. I feel like if we're all playing the numbers game, whoever has the highest numbers, it shouldn't be a debate."
I assume that's because you've got it on offense, defense, edge rushers, corners, skill positions, a little bit of everything?
"For sure. That's how it goes. We've had a great run here (at Ohio State) with putting out players that have produced at a high level at the next level. It's pretty cool to see. I just don't like arguing about it. I kind of think that one is obvious."